PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg sentenced to time served

After nearly a decade of waiting PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg received his punishment from the U.S. government for his company’s unlawful acts stemming from violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act  in 2011.

In the end, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced Scheinberg to time served and a $30,000 fine. A relative slap on the wrist after such a lengthy ordeal.

Back in 2011, the U.S. government seized domain names and funds from several offshore online poker providers in a crackdown that has since become known as Black Friday. Scheinberg was one of 11 people indicted at the time.

That indictment didn’t stick until earlier this year. Scheinberg stayed out of America for nearly nine years until when extradition proceedings to New York from Switzerland began in January, 2020. He later consented and was picked up by authorities upon his arrival in New York. He entered a not guilty plea and was released on $1 million bond.

What penalty was PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg sentenced to?

During a court appearance two months later, Scheinberg changed his plea to guilty to the charges against him. He was facing up to five years in prison for his crimes, but that was not expected after he came to an agreement with authorities on the basic terms of his guilty plea.

Scheinberg should have no trouble paying the fine. It’s true PokerStars immediately began paying its U.S customers in 2011 and helped customers from Full Tilt Poker and Ultimate Bet to get money back, (part of the reason why PokerStars has gained acceptance in the states and operates in many regulated states). But it didn’t put much of a dent in Scheinberg’s pocketbook. Scheinberg cashed in when he sold PokerStars to Montreal-based Amaya in 2014 for $4.9 billion.

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Following the judge’s ruling Scheinberg released the following statement.

“I am pleased that Judge Kaplan has determined today not to impose a prison sentence in my case. PokerStars played an important role in creating today’s global regulated online poker industry by running an honest and transparent business that always treated its players fairly. I am particularly proud that in 2011, when PokerStars exited the United States, all of its American players were made whole immediately. Indeed, PokerStars reimbursed millions of players who were owed funds from other online companies that could not or did not repay those players.”


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